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Composition: Birthplace of overseas-born Australians
OVERSEAS-BORN POPULATION: TOP 12 BIRTHPLACE GROUPS
(b) Non-English speaking countries.
Source: Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0).
GROWTH IN MAJOR BIRTHPLACE GROUPS
(b) Main English speaking countries.
(c) Non-English speaking countries.
Source: Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0).
Migration since World War II
The size and composition of the annual intake of migrants to Australia has varied considerably since World War II. These changes were influenced by many factors including economic and political conditions in countries of origin and Australia, and changes in Australian Government policies (see Australian Social Trends 1994, Birthplaces of Australian settlers).
Before World War II the vast majority of settlers came from the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 1947 however, Australia began to accept large numbers of displaced persons from Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, the Netherlands and Italy. During the 1950s the number of settlers from Italy and the Netherlands increased further, accompanied by large numbers of people from Greece and Germany. The number of settlers from Southern Europe remained high throughout the 1960s and, while the proportion from Italy and Greece tapered off after 1970, immigration from Yugoslavia continued at relatively high levels into the early 1970s.
Since then the number of immigrants from Asia (particularly Viet Nam) and Oceania (mainly New Zealand) has increased. By 1991-1995, New Zealand accounted for 9% of settler arrivals, Viet Nam 7%, and Asian countries comprised four of the six top birthplaces of settlers. Throughout the post-war period, the United Kingdom and Ireland has continued to be the largest single source of settlers but their proportion of the total intake has declined over time to 14% in the period 1991-1995.
The current birthplace mix of Australia's overseas-born population and the large differences in the age profiles of individual birthplace groups reflect these successive waves of immigration from different parts of the world.
TOP 6 SOURCE COUNTRIES OF BIRTH OF SETTLERS
Source: Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia (cat. no. 3401.0); Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).
Age and socio-economic status
The age composition of new arrivals is considerably younger than that of the total population so that the more recently arrived birthplace groups have a much younger age profile than either the total population or those groups which arrived mainly in earlier migration waves.
While aspects of their cultural heritage may be maintained by subsequent generations (see Australian Social Trends 1995, Second generation Australians), Australian-born children of migrants are not included in population counts of the overseas-born. Consequently, overseas birthplace groups experience more rapid ageing than the Australian-born population.
Of the top 12 overseas birthplace groups in 1996, the Italian born had the oldest age profile (median age 57 years) followed by those from Greece, the Netherlands and Germany, all with median ages of 50 years or older. In contrast New Zealanders and the more recently arrived Asian groups (people from the Philippines, Viet Nam, Malaysia and Hong Kong) were the youngest, with median ages below 35 years.
Differences in the age profiles of birthplace groups help to explain why various measures of socio-economic status, such as labour force participation rates, unemployment rates, educational attainment and dependency on income support, differ between birthplace groups. This is because these measures are themselves often associated with a person's age.
For example labour force participation (LFP) rates increase markedly in the 20-24 years age group, peak in the 25-44 years age range, then decline rapidly after 60 years of age. The social security recipient (SSR) rate also varies with age, increasing rapidly in pre-retirement years (mainly disability support pension) and after retirement (age pension).
The effect of the age profile of birthplace groups on differences in these two indicators of socio-economic status can be seen among the top 12 overseas birthplace groups. In 1996, the countries with the oldest age profiles; Italy, Greece, Netherlands and Germany, had the lowest LFP rates and, apart from Germany, the highest SSR rates. People from New Zealand and the more recently arrived Asian birthplace groups (except Hong Kong) all had LFP rates above the national average and, with the exception of the Vietnamese, lower than average SSR rates.
IMMIGRANT POPULATIONS(a) IN SELECTED OECD COUNTRIES, 1993
Source: OECD, Trends in International Migration, Annual Report 1994.
With more than four million people born overseas (representing 23% of the total population) Australia has one of the largest immigrant populations in the world. When compared to other major host countries in the OECD in 1993 only the United States of America, Germany and Canada had bigger migrant populations. However, when measured as a proportion of the total population, Australia had the largest migrant population of all OECD countries except Luxembourg, whose relatively small migrant population of 125,000 represented 31% of the total population.
In recent decades, Canada and the United States of America, like Australia, have experienced increasing numbers of settlers from Asian countries and a decline in the numbers of settlers from European countries.
These trends are reflected in changes in the composition of the overseas-born populations in these countries. For example, in 1981 people born in Asian countries made up 9% of the total overseas-born population in Australia and 14% in Canada. By 1991 Asians accounted for 18% of all overseas-born in Australia and 25% in Canada. In 1990 migrants from Asia made up 25% of the total overseas-born population in the United States of America compared to 18% in 1980.
BIRTHPLACE OF IMMIGRANT POPULATIONS IN AUSTRALIA, CANADA AND THE USA
(b) Includes birthplace not stated.
Source: Migration, Australia (cat. no. 3412.0); OECD, Trends in International Migration, Annual report 1994.